Behaviour – Department of Biology - University of Copenhagen

Laboratory experiments allow us to make small subcolonies of ants in which we can manipulate social variables, bacterial or fungal symbionts, or food. We can also mark individual ants with small droplets of enamel paint while maintaining much of their natural social setting to test whether they:

  • Are recognized as alien when introduced into another colony
  • Are recognized and expelled by their nestmates when infected with diseases
  • Carry an odour imprint from mutualistic symbionts (e. g. the fungus garden) of the colony

What are experiments used for?

We use these experiments to answer questions such as:

  • Do several neighbouring nests belong to the same colony?
  • Are certain tasks in the colony handled only by a subset of individuals?
  • What is the transmission rate of infectious diseases?

Organisms

Formica Wood ants; Fungus-growing antsHoney bees; Large Blue butterflies; Lycaenid butterflies; Megalomyrmex ants; Myrmica ants; Pathogenic fungi; Pharaoh antsArmy ants; Carpenter ants; Garden ants; Pachycondyla ants; Root aphids